Waterfowl Management on Lakes and Reservoirs

Introduction

 

Population levels of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) have increased dramatically over the past four decades, increasing from 1.08 to 5.01 million birds from 1970 to 2005. As the population of Canada geese continues to grow, the birds come into contact with humans more frequently. This interaction has resulted in several different types of human-goose conflicts. Waterfowl can cause many major issues on reservoirs, lakes and other water bodies. Canada geese and other waterfowl leave droppings that can drive away guests and even contaminate water reservoirs and swimming areas. Adult geese can also damage landscaping due to their heavy grazing behaviors, eating up to 4 lbs. of vegetation a day. This behavior can cause erosion on steep banks, causing sedimentation issues in reservoirs. Waterfowl management on reservoirs and lakes is a critical element of ensuring human health and safety.

 

Since 2005 Loomacres Wildlife Management’s primary mission has been to provide the highest quality of wildlife management consulting available. We work closely with clients to develop a custom management plan to suit their wildlife management needs, no matter how large or small the project. Our employees utilize their extensive experience and training in order to provide the utmost quality in wildlife management. Loomacres foundation is based upon three basic principles; ethics, reliability and professionalism.

 

 

Disease with Water Contamination

 

Waterfowl feces contain many harmful substances, including a number of parasites, viruses, bacteria and nutrients that can alter water chemistry, some of which can effect humans. These contaminants can be harmful when washed into a nearby water source, and can result in over-nutrification and oxygen depletion of water bodies, as well as bacteria that are harmful to human health. In natural ponds, fish kills and lowered fish species diversity are a concern. Goose feces can also cause increases in fecal coliform bacteria, leading to further costs in treating public water supplies. While not directly harmful to humans, waterborne pathogenic diseases that can be caused due to coliform contamination include; ear infections, dysentery, typhoid fever, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, and hepatitis A.  The accumulation of these harmful pathogens has resulted in temporary closings of water sources and swimming areas. These contaminants can be a hazard to human health if left unchecked, and may enter city drinking water supplies.

 

 

 

Seasonal Management Techniques


Control techniques can vary in effectiveness based on the season. In spring months (March through May), adult geese are actively nesting and should not be allowed to nest. Geese should be vigorously harassed from the area to prevent nesting from occurring. Once eggs are present or young have hatched, certain harassment techniques may no longer work, and additional permits may be required in order to remove individuals from an area. In winter, resident geese gather together in large numbers at lakes and reservoirs. Waterfowl also migrate in large flocks in the spring and fall each year, and are likely to stop at lakes and reservoirs in large numbers. Migrating waterfowl should be harassed to prevent birds from returning in the future.

 

 

......................Damaged bank due to waterfowl activity

 

Rules and Regulations


While a nuisance animal, Canada geese and other waterfowl species are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Adult waterfowl, their young, nests, or eggs cannot be harmed without depredation permits.

 

Most states have implemented regulations to help landowners control resident goose populations without the need for a federal permit. These orders are the Nest and Egg Depredation Order and the Agricultural Depredation Order. They are intended to help landowners, operators and tenants control local geese populations by allowing them to destroy eggs or remove problem birds where they may be causing damage, without the need to apply for a federal permit. However this option is not available in all States.

 

Certain restrictions may also be placed on the types of equipment used during control techniques. Firearms used for lethal control may be heavily regulated, or even prohibited, depending on the location they are used, or may require additional permits to use. Even the type of ammunition used may be regulated. Handheld pyrotechnic launchers may also be classified as a firearm in some jurisdictions, and some pyrotechnics and launchers also require an ATF explosives permit to operate.

 

Loomacres Wildlife Management can help obtain permits, and make sure you are in compliance with all wildlife permitting needs

 

.....................Canada geese (Branta canadensis)

 

Species of Concern

 

The species that causes the most concern at reservoirs and lakes is the Canada goose. Resident Canada geese are present all year and do not migrate seasonally. These are the populations that cause the most issues with feces. Grassy areas and sidewalks can become heavily covered. This accumulation is highly undesirable in public places and also represents a slipping hazard. There are also costs associated with the cleaning of these areas. Geese can also aggressively attack people that get too close to a nest.


Other bird species such as ducks, gulls and cormorants are also a cause for concern at reservoirs and lakes. These birds leave large amounts of droppings and can cause other damage to property.

 

Wildlife Management Techniques

 

There are many management strategies available for reducing the issues caused by waterfowl. It is important to note that there is no easy or quick method to remove waterfowl. Several methods are often needed over an extended period of time, as birds may habituate to a single control method. There are two types of control techniques; passive and active management.

 

Passive control methods are one of the most important techniques to reduce the local waterfowl population. These methods are most effective if employed before waterfowl become established. Possible passive control methods include; mowing, vegetation removal or planting, drainage of wet areas, exclusion devices  like netting, spikes, bird balls and fencing, flagging or other scare devices, and establishing no-feeding policies.

 

Active control methods should be used when passive control techniques have been attempted, and birds are still present at the location. These active control strategies fall into two categories: lethal and non-lethal control. Lethal control should always be used after all other forms of control have failed, and are used only to reinforce other harassment activities. Active control methods include; hazing with pyrotechnics, distress calls, balloons, use of canines and effigies, removal or relocation, nest removal, egg addling or oiling, and lethal control.

 

Loomacres Wildlife Management takes pride in using a wide range of techniques that are proven effective in reducing local waterfowl numbers over time.

 

 

Runoff and Erosion


Because of their heavy grazing habits, it is possible for Canada geese to completely strip vegetation from an area. The removal of grass and other vegetation near the edges of ponds or other waterbodies may cause increased erosion rates, and can cause contaminants to runoff into the water more easily, or even destroy bank integrity. Water runoff from stripped and trampled shorelines moves more quickly into the watershed. In combination with large quantities of fecal material, excess nutrients and sediments may enter watersheds faster than on a normally vegetated bank.

 

PR Issues


Wildlife management can give rise to public relations issues. Geese and other waterfowl are an aesthetic part of parks or other natural areas. Seeing them harassed or otherwise controlled can cause disagreements about how nuisance birds should be managed. Depending on who owns the land in question, getting approval for control work can be difficult. It is important for all involved parties to be included in decision making processes, and be educated in all aspects of the management proposal. In some cases, lethal control may not be a reliable option due to local regulations or other issues. Multiple non-lethal control techniques are available for landowners.

Loomacres staff are trained in dealing with the public on tough wildlife topics, and answering questions about the nature of wildlife management.

 

Loomacres Services


Loomacres offers full-time services such as  year-round wildlife surveys to determine population size, daily and seasonal trends, and effectiveness of management practices.


Loomacres can help with short-term seasonal issues, from egg/nest searching and round ups, to seasonal harassments or year round coverage.


Loomacres can work with clients to create a Waterfowl Hazard Management Plan (WHMP) that states the goals and methods used to reduce waterfowl presence in and around the water body in question.


Loomacres Wildlife Management also offers a wide variety of wildlife control equipment. Products are available at www.WildlifeMS.com.


More information about wildlife and Loomacres products and services can be found on our website at www.AirportWildlife.com

 

Loomaces Waterfowl Management Services